Queen should stay on Canadian postage, but future definitives must celebrate a Canadian

By Jesse Robitaille

For the first time in three years, Canada’s annual stamp program will forgo a new issue featuring the world’s oldest and longest-serving current head of state – and the Sovereign of Canada – Queen Elizabeth II.

Canada Post recently confirmed to CSN there will be “no new Queen design for 2020,” lending credence to some collectors’ concerns after the Crown corporation unveiled its stamp program last fall with no Queen definitive.

A continuously printed issue, like all definitives, last year’s Queen stamp (Scott #3137) will be used to meet postal needs through 2020.

Considered “common” stamps compared to their commemorative counterparts, definitives are “intended for normal everyday postal use,” according to the Unitrade Specialized Catalogue of Canadian Stamps, and are “issued in large quantities and available (typically) for several years.”

There are “lots of Queen Permanent-rate stamps for customers and collectors to purchase,” Nicole Lecompte, Canada Post media relations, told me in earlier this month, adding last year’s Queen stamp “is a very popular stamp and will be available for sale in all channels,” including post offices and online.

“It has been our practice for many years to run the same design over multiple years,” she added.

For example, the 2016 Queen stamp was on sale until 2019. Last year, it was replaced with the latest design featuring Her Majesty wearing the maple-leaf brooch during her 2010 royal tour of Canada.

So while the lack of a new Queen definitive – especially a year after one was issued – isn’t exactly major news, it does present an opportunity to discuss future possibilities, namely a new face for Canadian definitive stamps.

Other recent definitives have featured some of the country’s favourite locales as part of the From Far and Wide series; baby animals; and flowers, but none – aside from the 2012 “Canadian Pride” set – have featured actual Canadians.

Two of the stamps from the “Canadian Pride” set feature judoka Nicolas Gill carrying the country’s flag at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games and an obscured Pierre Leuders bobsledding while in competition, respectively.

Despite those two “Canadian Pride” stamps, no Canadian citizen has been the main focus of a Canadian definitive.

At a time when Canada’s currency is undergoing a complete makeover – and as countless other current events constitute a “changing of the guard,” so to speak – celebrating a Canadian citizen on a first-class definitive for the first time ever would be a welcome sight to many people, collectors and non-collectors alike.

Including last year’s definitive featuring the long-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II appeared on new Canadian stamps in four of five years from 2015-19 (excluding 2017) and has been depicted on more than 70 Canadian stamps since 1953, the year of her coronation and one year after she assumed the throne upon the death of her father, King George VI.

There’s no need to oust the Queen from Canadian postage altogether, but perhaps it’s time for a change of scenery on Canada’s definitives.

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